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by Joseph Pelletier  •  •  July 22, 2016

Results skewed in Finnish report citing socioeconomic and health benefits for women who abort

HELSINKI ( – Teens who undergo abortions are better off than those who give birth. That’s the claim of a study published by Finnish researchers, which reports that pregnant teenagers who choose to abort rather than carry their child to term experience better longterm results in the realms of personal socioeconomics, psychiatry and health. But critics are claiming the results are skewed.

Conducted by academics from the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital, the co-author claims the results of the study make it clear “that really the only difference was, young women who went on to continue the pregnancy and deliver, their overall level of education was then lower than women who chose to have an abortion.”

Researchers examined the data of nearly 30,000 Finnish women born in 1987 and continued their investigation until 2012 when the subjects turned 25 years old; of the 30,000, a little more than 1,000 underwent abortions and nearly 400 had given birth before the age of 18. The study maintains that those who had undergone abortions held higher grades in school as well as experienced a higher socioeconomic status post-abortion when compared to those who gave birth.

These results, according to the researchers, make “a lot of sense.”

“This is the result we were expecting,” declared co-author Oskari Heikinheimo. “I’m very glad about these results because there is a lot of misinformation about abortion.”

Critics argue, however, that the final report glossed over certain aspects that may have skewed the results. The most glaring is the fact that most teens who underwent abortions by the age of 25 and had achieved a higher socioeconomic status came from families that already belonged to the upper-middle to upper class. These facts are leading commentators to suggest the correlation between undergoing an abortion and achieving a higher socioeconomic status may not hold up under questioning.

Other studies support the claims of critics, particularly in the realm of mental health. A 2006 studyconducted in New Zealand revealed that those who had undergone an abortion had “elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders.” The trend remained despite adjustments for “confounding factors.”

The New Zealand study concluded that “abortion in young women may be associated with increased risks of mental health problems.”


Certain other findings in the Finnish study did not produce the results researchers may have expected, with the risk of psychiatric disorders among those who had procured abortions and those who had given birth being too close to note any possible correlation.

Abortion has been legal in Finland since 1950, when the practice was legalized with restrictions. While it is currently illegal to procure an abortion in a clinic, an abortion may be obtained free of charge in hospitals.

Research from 2010 reveals the abortion rate in the European country to be approximately 10.4 abortions per 1,000 women in the 15–44 age range.

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Joseph Pelletier is a staff writer for